Friday, October 30, 2009

A Teacher? HAHAHA!

Woman: Hello?
Me: Hi, is this Watertown Middle school?
Woman: Yes it is. How can I help you?
Me: Hi, I just wanted to look into how I might go about applying to work as a substitute teacher.
Woman: Oh, a substitute teacher! HAHAHAHA (additional laughing in background)...


Why in the world were they laughing? Based on the intonation, I can think of two possible reasons. Either they were just talking about the need for substitute teachers and laughed because of my serendipitous phone call OR perhaps they heard in my voice the naive, unbroken spirit of a young soul about to be crushed by the reality of working in middle school education.

We shall see.


Mack Ramer said...

They might have been laughing because you might have been the one millionth caller this year, given the current unemployment rate. Or they might have been laughing because it might be really tough in Massachusetts to become a sub. In Indiana you just have to have a HS diploma, but I know in IL you have to go through a lengthy registration with the State, and in Chicago Public Schools in particular you have to go through a training program only offered in August.

I learned all this because when I decided to start going to graduate school I looked into becoming a substitute myself. I ended up with a different (and far better) job instead, but I found that my best opportunities were in private Catholic schools because they didn't have to follow the State substitute licensing system and its ridiculous waiting periods and fees; some required the state substitute teaching license but many required only a background check and proof of a college degree.

Of course given your religious beliefs I doubt you would be interested in subbing at a Catholic school, but if you could find a private school you can stomach being in that'd probably be your best bet. Good luck!

SuiginChou said...

I was hesitating to mention it, but Matt's already beaten me to it so why not chime in: I also think it's because you're the millionth caller. It's not that you're underqualified to be a sub, but it's sure as hell not because you serendipitously called right when they were discussing how badly they needed you. I can promise you that even in Indiana, the school systems' favorite subs are not getting very many phone calls for work -- because Indiana schools (or at least Tippecanoe County, Lafayette, and West Lafayette school systems) believe in trying to spread the wealth rather than let only the same five to ten people get all the sub money. Zionsville may do it differently, but in Lafayette, people like Mrs. Robson would be S.O.L. if they relied on being a regular sub as a source of income. As for how I can promise you this, don't ask, just believe me, I can promise you.

Jay said...

Awww. Well, I got the impression that they were in need (they signed me up for an interview right away!) but considering the terrible job market out here, a glut of teachers is more likely. There are licenses, but I couldn't find out if they were mandatory for subs (doesn't look like it) You do need a Bachelor's degree, which thins out the crowd...ever so slightly. We'll see. And now I want to know why you can promise me, Ryan! lol I was under the impression, especially in Zville, that school systems were hurting for teachers. My sister was just offered a job in Zville and she's not even finished with college! Also, I'm not looking to make a career out of it. It's just something to help the money hemorrhaging while I find a job.

SuiginChou said...

Teachers, yes. Subs, no.

A teacher has much more obligations to the school system at which he/she is employed. They are responsible for an entire class of students, or rather for several entire classes of students. They're committed to working a roughly eight-hour workday plus on top of that they have homework every night (e.g. grading assignments).

A sub, on the other hand, is much more akin to a freelance photographer. The school system calls the sub either the evening before or the morning of the desired day. Subs are at liberty to turn down job opportunities without negative repercussions to their records, i.e. you can turn down an offer to work one day and still get called the next by the same school system. They have minimal responsibilities and minimal expectations of them. They are more akin to keepers of the peace than they are to genuine substitute educators.

There is a teaching drought because most intellectuals steer clear of education due to the unbalanced nature of rewards vs. penalties (e.g. low pay, bratty kids, 10+ hours of work each weekday+night, etc); and most unintellectuals who attempt to go into teaching either lean towards elementary education (e.g. K, 1, or 2) or else find themselves nudged in that direction by school systems which are unenthusiastic about employing a moron to teach a bunch of impressionable, bright 15-year olds.

On the contrary, there is a sub surplus because many unemployed persons are signed up for their local substitute teaching lists whilst looking for permanent work elsewhere. In other words, they see this as an interrim source of pay, and they happily accept any phone calls they get but on their days off they're busy job-hunting elsewhere, and they have no desire to be a sub forever.

There's also a sub surplus, especially in wealthier areas like Zionsville, because of growing awareness amongst the bored housewife population (serious!) and the elderly retired population (again, serious!) of substitute teaching opportunities. They see this is as a fun once-in-a-while chance to get out of the house, interract with the younger generation, and get paid some play-money for their efforts.